Remembering a Beloved Pet

Eric Timberlake only knew Chilee, a rambunctious chocolate Labrador retriever, for about three weeks before Chilee died unexpectedly. But Eric has taken great effort to celebrate Chilee’s memory since, raising funds for those who can’t afford emergency veterinary care.

Eric, an electrical contractor in Rhinebeck, adopted Chilee from his sister, Robin, in June 2008 when she and her family were relocating to Florida. About three weeks after Chilee arrived in Rhinebeck, he began to show symptoms of stomach distress, so Eric took him to Round Top Animal Hospital in Germantown where Dr. Elaine Tucker discovered Chilee had swallowed a marble and arranged to perform surgery to remove it. Sadly, Chilee did not survive the ordeal.

Soon after, the two were discussing a plan that eventually became the Chilee Memorial Fund, which provides up to $500 for pet owners facing emergency veterinary bills they cannot afford. 

More than a three dozen grants have been awarded since then, and Eric said one of the best decisions he made about the project was turning over its administration to the Community Foundations. “I talked to some friends about how to start the fund and getting the Community Foundation involved was a lot simpler than starting my own charity,” he said. With his continued fundraising efforts and the carefully managed investment strategy of the Foundations, the Chilee fund will be helping beloved pets for years to come.

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